Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day!

For those of you living in the USA,  Happy Independence Day! Things are rather subdued at our house and around the country due to the pandemic, although some overzealous neighbors have been shooting off fireworks for a couple nights now. i’m pretty sure it will continue tonight as well. I’ve never understood, even as a kid, what the attraction is to lighting things on fire and blowing things up. Fireworks scare the hell out of me, and I know that at least 90% of cats and dogs agree. (Alfalfa is among the 10% of cats who enjoy fireworks, though. He sits in the window and watches as long as there are no thunderous bangs). I do enjoy a nice fireworks show put on by professionals at a city event or a ballgame, but I’ve seen too many fires (houses, trash cans, hills, etc) from neighborhood fireworks to think they are anything but pure lunacy (my blog, my opinion). Perhaps someday we’ll convert to more peaceful patriotic celebrations and give up the “bombs bursting in air”. 

For the month of July, we are focusing on dark blue for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I was hoping for yellow, since I’m working on a mostly-yellow quilt anyway, but oh well. Yellow’s time will come.  I did get some blue scraps sewn this week, namely my selvage half hexies. Eighteen of them.

And then I finished off my dark blue selvages by stitching them together into columns for a future coin quilt. I’ve got quite a collection of these going now...

My One Monthly Goal (OMG) for June was to finish my pineapple quilt. For the first time in eighteen months, I did not make my goal. Progress was made, however, and I’m going to call it as my OMG for July. A totally finished pineapple quilt before month-end. It will get done! Here are 9 of the 10 blocks I’ve sewn so far. I’ll need a total of 24. I’m linking up to the OMG goal-setting post for July at Elm Street Quilts

I’m aiming to sew 2 pineapples per day. If I can stick to that, then I’ll be ready to begin assembling the quilt top by this time next week. other than sewing blue blocks for the RSC, I shouldn’t have too many distractions. Except those zipper blocks that Sally got me hooked on. I made another 18 of them this week. They are soooo much fun to sew. Quick and easy. Like Sally mentioned, it takes longer to select and cut out the fabrics than it does to sew them up.

Our vegetable garden seems to be well established now and growing nicely. We had another spate of cool weather earlier in the week and I took advantage of a cool, cloudy morning to go out and snap some pictures. 

Below is the carrot bed with a decorative metal carrot stake for size reference. Later in the summer, that stake will barely be visible. Beyond the carrot bed to the right is the spaghetti squash bed. You can also see the back wall and the pollinator habitat in the background. Oops - and an old seat that we sometimes sit on with some pumpkins growing beyond the carrot bed.

We planted one crookneck squash plant this year, and it’s already going gangbusters. You can see the blossoms giving ‘way to the squash.

This is the onion bed with the tip of my shoe for reference.  

Next up are the beans. To their left you can see an Armenian cucumber struggling with its huge cage and beyond that a tomato. Way in the back is the bed with the peas.

Next up is the bed of spinach (left), which we’re already harvesting and giving away and the lettuce (right).

This is a better view of the peas. Bruce went a little crazy with the twine, but he’s like that sometimes. The rhubarb on the left is about done for the year. I’ve frozen a lot of wonderful strawberry-rhubarb compote this year to enjoy during the winter.

That about wraps it up for this week. I’ll be linking up to Scrappy Saturday this morning and sewing away the afternoon today. We have no plans for the day, and for this year that’s just fine by us! 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Roundup for Pink June

We’re into our summer routine here at Chez Kizerian. Bruce spends most mornings out puttering in the yard. Today he whacked weeds out of the walkways between the garden beds, along the driveway and in the sidewalk cracks. If you’re a weed, never underestimate what a one-armed man with a weed-whacker can do to you! I join him two or three mornings a week pulling weeds, keeping the grape arbor trimmed, filling bird feeders and deadheading blooms. Sometimes I do housework or errands instead. Next month I’ll start thinning all the overgrown iris beds, and preparing and labeling the rhizomes for a massive giveaway to Cousin Kim and any unsuspecting neighbor who would like irises. With the weather now in full summer mode, we get out early and come in well before noon. Afternoons can then be spent playing, which for us means reading, sewing (me) or tinkering (Bruce). How did we ever fit all this stuff in when we were working full time?

So this week, being the last full week of the month, I concentrated on getting my four basted quilt tops finished. They were quilted, bound, labeled and photographed by Wednesday. Let’s take a look, shall we?

First up was Creature from the Bubblegum Factory.  I had a lot of leftover pink blocks from various other projects over the last couple years. To that I added some of the 6” string blocks I made earlier in the month to fill things in as needed. It ended up at 42x55”. 

Here is a close-up of some of the quilting, which was just my usual stipple.

The backing was leftover fabric from some I used in a quilt earlier in the year, given to me by my friend Annette who is in my Weight Watchers group.

Then I decided to get the two donation quilts of civil war reproduction fabrics out of the way. This first one is just plain horizontal strips cut randomly. I actually ended up liking these quilts until I realized I had no background fabric that was appropriate or matching from my stash. For the Quilts for Kids donation quilts, the backing and binding are one piece. Once the quilt is quilted, we trim away the batting first, then trim the backing fabric 1” larger than the front all around. That excess fabric is folded to the front and becomes the binding - an all-in-one method that saves a lot of time and fabric (which is great when you’re cranking out lots of quilts for charity).

For some reason I can’t explain, Blogger won’t recognize the pictures I took of the backs of these quilts, and I’m not going to haul the quilts out again and re-take pictures to appease the Blogging Gods. In fact, after this month, I have a few choice words for Them that aren’t repeatable here.

So, the stripey quilt above finished at 42x52” and the striped squares block below finished at 40.5 x 50.5”.

And lastly, I finished the simple pink patchwork donation quilt in an effort to use up more of my pink scraps. It turned out very sweet and cuddly.

The quilting was a simple stitch in the ditch and then a crosshatch in the blocks. Finished size is 40.5 x 48.5”. 

The backing used up some chunks I had. It was good to see them finally get used.

I’m linking up today to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog. Here is a summary of the pinky goodness I stitched this month.

One pink scraps tote bucket, 16 pink selvage half hexes, 25 6” string blocks, 4 zipper blocks, one Scraptastic Star, 11 Twin Sisters blocks and 12 Split nine-patch blocks, for a total of 69 blocks and one bucket.  

After Wednesday when the quilts shown above were finished, I just had to make more Zipper blocks. These are addicting, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold off and just do these in the color of the month. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t. These are six additional blocks I sewed from the Sallyscraps.

And just to show you what else is on my “plate” (if by plate you mean my sewing tables....), there was some of this going on...

This is/was my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for June, which will not be finished by month end. I decided not to go crazy trying to finish it at the last minute. It will be another pineapple quilt (literal pineapple motifs, not the pineapple piecing technique). The yellow strips are all sewn and matched up for 23 out of the 24 blocks. The green “foliage” four patches are all sewn, but each of the 24 pineapples will need 6 half-square triangles. Those 144 green and 144 white pieces are all cut and waiting to be sewn and trimmed. And then I’ll have to piece the final 24th pineapple in an as-yet-undecided color. Should I do pink again? Or aqua? We’ll see...

And yesterday this Christmas panel arrived. I’m going to do a Christmas quilt for my brother who loves old cars and trucks (and quilts too).  I’ve got plenty of black fabric, but I may run over to Joann Fabrics to get some Kona Red while I have a valid 50% off coupon. That car fabric hanging on the right (below) will be mostly for the back, but it may become one of the borders (I plan on 2-3 borders) to enlarge the size.

I’m looking forward to playing with this one!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Pink Scraps Matter

Today is the official first day of summer! I hope the weather is pleasantly appropriate where you are and that this past week has been good. We made two careful (and masked) trips out to the grocery store and the garden center this week. And then last night we visited my son Ryan’s family at their home for pizza on the patio. It was so nice to see everyone again, even if we all kept our distance and settled for “air hugs”.  Their two kids are our two eldest grandkids. Easton is taking online summer classes as he enters his senior year of college. He has a virtual interview with a US Navy admiral this week that will determine whether he is accepted into their nuclear submarine engineering program after his senior year. Lauren will be a junior in high school. She made the cheer team at school, finally got her driver’s license and a new-to-her car, which she’d been saving years for. Now she drives herself to and from work and cheer practice. Life is good!

I don’t have any finishes to show this week, but I did finish the quilt top for Creature From the Bubblegum Factory.  Here’s a picture hanging on the design wall. There were a couple blocks from the Orphanage that didn’t get “adopted” into this quilt (front or back). But an overwhelming majority did, plus about ten of the 6” string blocks I made last week. 

Here it is pin basted. It’s the first in line to be quilted.

But I still had lots of pink scraps to deal with, so I cut 4.5” squares and sewed them into a sweet little patchwork donation top. Here it is all basted up. I’ll get better picture once they’re quilted.

I’ve had some 2.5” strips sitting around since our last Quilts for Kids meeting in February. They’re ugly (to me) Civil War reproduction fabrics which don’t exactly shout “kids!”. But they were foisted on me (in all likelihood because I kinda sorta volunteered to do something with them).  In that meeting, someone had started sewing the strips together along the long edge, just cutting them at random lengths with a general goal of making a quilt 40” (ish) wide. So, I just continued with that until it was long enough.

There were still strips left, so I sewed them together into 5-strip sets, then cut them in 10.5” squares. Those blocks were set 4x5 for a more interesting layout measuring 40x50”. Sorry for the cut-off picture, but you get the idea.

While I think of it, I just want to mention that the new Blogger has been giving me fits. It keeps turning off or losing or erasing my Comment Notification Emails. Last week I missed getting notified about most of the comments and was unable to respond, except directly within the comments. I apologize. In attempting to fix the problem yet again (this has happened about three times in the last two months), I finally had to revert back to Legacy Blogger. There it allowed me to fix it when the new format wouldn’t. If this continues happening after Legacy goes away, I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

But to end on a happy note, the scraps I won from Sally’s recent giveaway arrived on Friday. This is just a fun sampling of the myriad scraps, but I can hardly wait to get started making more zipper blocks.

In addition to the scraps, there were two little fuzzy balls; one each for Darla and Alfie (no doubt from Molly Kitten and Buddy the cat/dog/pony). Darla and Alfie loved the balls and the box and were content to let me play with the “packing material”. 

Linking up to:  Scrappy Saturday.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Keeping my Head Down

It’s been an historic week or two. Nationwide Worldwide protests have taken place over police brutality in general and the tragic, unnecessary murder of George Floyd in particular. While the protesters have been mostly peaceful, there have been some violent infiltrators from both extreme ends of the political spectrum who are looting and causing damage. We’ve seen nakedly political stunts and heard tone-deaf statements by politicians at the low end of the scale. At the high end, blacks and whites (and browns and people of every skin color, age, gender identification, religion, etc.) have marched arm in arm to end police brutality and systemic racism; to call attention to issues and shine light on problems that have remained shrouded in secrecy and denial for too long. The people of our great nation have finally awakened, and it truly feels as though these righteous causes have at last reached critical mass. We will not be going back to the old ways. 

And all of this grand scale upheaval comes against the backdrop of COVID-19, which continues to rage through the US at alarming infection rates. This year, 2020, isn’t even half over yet. What do you think the rest of the year has in store for us? Fires? Earthquakes? Floods? Locusts? Actually, we’ve seen all those already in the first half! All I can imagine is that after this year’s run of awfulness, 2021 is due to be the greatest year in the History of Time. 

* * * * * * * * * *

So, yeah, I’ve been keeping my head down this week. Early in the week for about 3-4 days it was because of an inner ear infection that left me alternately nearly deaf in one ear and/or too dizzy to get up. But it has passed, and the next round of keeping my head down was more the pedal-to-the-metal variety at the sewing machine. And so I turned from issues of black and white to the very refreshing issue of PINK, the Rainbow Scrap color of the month for June. 

First up were the strings. I had a ton of pink scraps, and for the last couple years have not made much of a dent in them. This year I’ve been determined to change all that. The strings, then, yielded 25 squares at 6” (finished size). Wow.

And then it was on to making my scrappy basket for the month.  Although I’ve been using Angela’s pattern (link here), I modified it a bit this time. Instead of creating a totally separate lining, I quilted each side panel as one unit, then sewed them together at the corners. I overstitched the seams for neatness and security. The bottom panel as inserted normally, but I used cardboard for sturdiness between the layers instead of batting. The top edge was finished with bias binding.

I did add the handle on the side as usual, a feature I love! It turned out so cute!

Here it is on the shelf. Wow, it finally looks as though my stash is noticeably smaller! Look how tidy the pink bucket looks compared to the orange one I did back in February!

There was also some work on my scrap (“Creature”) quilt. The center medallion portion is sewn together. However, I realized that I made the white coping strips on the sides (barely visible in the picture below) too narrow. It’s width measures 30”, and it needs to measure 30.5” to allow for seams. Arrrrgh! So, I’ll be giving my seam ripper a workout first thing today and replacing those before I can move on. 

I’m aiming for a rectangular quilt, so the top and bottom will begin to see more stuff added as I work outwards. I have 21 various 6” orphan blocks to add, plus lots of 4” blocks, fabric squares, strips and any of those string blocks from above that I might need. This is the fun part!

When my friend Terri visited about a month ago for a socially-distanced lunch out on the patio, she brought some baby quilts she’d made for Quilts for Kids as well as some kennel quilts for donation to Best Friends. Kennel quilts! That set me on a frenzy to sew up all the cat fabric and “parts” that I’ve had laying around for over a year. I cut and sewed the fabrics into matching panels and cut batting scraps. Everything is paired up now and will become 19 finished kennel quilts of varying sizes. Twelve are sewn together and quilted, seven are still left to do.

A lot of these fabrics were 10” squares from a layer cake pre-cut pack, so that’s why there are strips of coordinating fabric added to the tops. You’ll notice that kennel quilts don’t have traditional binding. They’re made by sewing three layers (top, bottom, batting) together, right sides facing, then leaving an opening for turning. Once turned, the opening is sewn shut as a top-stitched seam around the entire perimeter. That way, the kitties (and small dogs) who use them aren’t tempted to tear off the binding. Then it’s quick work to just quilt the mat as desired.

Does anyone else make kennel quilts? I’d be happy to do a tutorial if there is enough interest or if my description isn’t clear. I imagine this is an easy way to make placemats, too. 

So that’s it for this week. I’ll be linking up to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Tickled Pink

It’s Saturday again, and do you know what that means? Trick question with a trick answer. I have a dentist appointment later this morning to get a crown put on a cracked molar. We went a few days ago for our semi-annual cleaning and all is well there. But my tooth had cracked a couple months ago. I know right when it happened, but I couldn’t see or feel anything except a crunch in what should have been soft chocolate chips. *cough* (Those chips were probably pounds #7 and #8 of my Covid Plus Ten Gained. Six of those are now lost again). But anyway, it’s nice that I can go and just wait at the dentist while they make the crown right there. I’ve got a good book I’m reading (American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins), so I can be doing two things at once.

So, today is also Scrappy Saturday at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC). We’re linking up, as usual, over at Angela’s So Scrappy blog and sharing our progress in knocking back our pink scraps.

First up for me this week was making four Zipper blocks. I had two from last week (the top two) that I changed the accent colors on and I like them better. I plan to do a few of these every month, following along with the RSC color of the month. Since they’ll finish at 6x9”, I plan to make a quilt that’s 10 blocks across by 8 down for 80 blocks and a quilt that’s 60x72”.

Next up were the 6” Twin Sisters blocks - 14 of those.

Then one Scraptastic Star, which is 16.5” unfinished.

Here are the six Scraptastic Star blocks so far. I’m liking this! By the way, this is a free pattern at Melissa Corry’s blog. You can find it here.

And like the Energizer Bunny, I just kept on going. Here are my Split Nine blocks for June. There are 12 of them at 6.5” (unfinished).

And in case that’s not enough pink, I also worked on my Block of the Month block for June at the local quilt shop. Coincidentally, it was also pink.

And here are all of those BOM’s together so far.

That’s not intended to be a final layout. There are three more blocks to go (they measure 12” finished each). I’ll probably add a bit of sashing and use it as a donation quilt because I’m not crazy about it. 

There is plenty more pink to sew - a quilted scrap bucket in pink, all my string blocks and then a Creature quilt. I have started gathering all my pink scraps and pink orphan blocks and miscellaneous pieces. First stop is to pin them up on the design board to see what I have and what size I’ll be working toward. This is going to be a big one. That print on the right below will be the backing. 

In looking at the photo, I think I want to surround that star with those hot pink cracker blocks somehow to make one central medallion/focal point. I’ll also add either hot pink or white strips for the purpose of dividing sections and giving the eye a place to rest. That’s all part of the process, and I’ve got a couple weeks to play with it. This should be a fun one. 

I’ve read that a lot of bloggers are not enjoying the new Blogger changes. I’ve had absolutely no trouble with the new format. Everything is pretty much the same for me (I’m on a one year old iMac) except the initial dashboard. Some buttons are a bit different, but I find them pretty intuitive. And I’ve had no changes or issues with the way my pictures upload. 

Now I’ll finish off the blog post today with some pictures taken a couple days ago. My roses are going gangbusters (except one bush, which is sitting its May bloom out for some reason....). So I’ve got more pictures, just to make Sally jealous. 

Backyard climber with irises

Rose Tree at the front porch

Miniature rose in front planter

Orange Asiatic Lily just opening up

More roses near the front porch

Delphinium in front flower bed

Pink roses, hostas and delphiniums in front planter

It’s going to be another sweltering day here (like yesterday; in the mid-seventies F at 9am). So after the dentist there will be no yard work - just sewing the day away in my cool basement studio. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

June OMG - One Monthly Goal

Every month I like to set creative goals for myself. The One Monthly Goal challenge, run by the very talented Patty Dudek at Elm Street Quilts, facilitates that process for needleworkers of all types. Participants name their goal at the beginning of the month and then if they are able to finish it by month end, a link-up opportunity is provided again. In the process, various sponsors offer prizes that are awarded in a monthly drawing of those who have successfully finished their project. I’ve completed all my monthly goals going back well over a year. So, as I’ve been doing for a long time, I’ll be linking up to Patty’s One Monthly Goal June goal-setting post.

What is my goal for June? To finish up another pineapple quilt that I started a couple years ago. Here is the work in progress as it sits right now.

In the lower left, you can see a picture of the first pineapple quilt I finished in August of 2017. To see it more closely, you can click the page tab above for “Quilts 2012-2017” and scroll down just a bit to see it. Anyway, my granddaughter Lauren loved the first one so much that she staked her claim on it. So now I want to make one for me! I don’t know what color the one “odd” pineapple will be, but likely it will be either pink again or perhaps aqua. That fabric in the top left area has been patiently waiting its turn to be put to use as the perfect backing!

So, my goal is to get this quilt totally done by month-end. That’s a tall order, considering I haven’t even started assembling blocks yet!

I finally broke down and spent some of my gift cards from Christmas, my birthday (March) and Mother’s Day, so I have a new wool pressing mat, a new rotary cutting mat (I hate the one I bought last year and it’s already warped and deeply grooved) and some new rotary cutting blades. Everything is due to arrive over the next 1-2 weeks.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Two More Quilt Finishes and May Recap

Happy weekend! Summer - or a very warm spring - has arrived here in the Salt Lake Valley, and we finally had to turn on the central air conditioning. But we keep it relatively warm-ish (78 degrees F) in the house because I prefer warmth to refrigerated cold. At night we open the windows and turn on the ceiling fans, and the cats jostle for best position under it on the bed.

The vegetables wasted no time in appearing in the garden and are loving the warmth too. My mouth is already watering at the thought of the early veggies - peas, spinach and lettuce. The rhubarb plant is still producing, but I’m trying to make strawberry-rhubarb compote with it after scratching our “pie itch" and making one (spectacular) raspberry-rhubarb pie.  The thought that I’ll not spend all of July putting up apricots is mostly very freeing, but sometimes there is a twinge of remorse that we had to chop the tree down. Luckily, there are enough frozen apricots, jam, and dried apricots to last another whole year.

My first finish this week was the garlic knots quilt that was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project I began in 2019. It was also my OMG, One Monthly Goal, for May.  So, I’m linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts to share my finish there. As always, Patty, we appreciate your help in keeping us moving forward with our goals!

So, the official name for my garlic knots quilt (traditionally the block is called Arrowhead Puzzle) is Garlic Breath. Why? Because it’s just plain silly, that’s why!

My official quilt holder (hubby Bruce) is no longer qualified for the job since he had his right arm amputated last month. So, Cousin Kim, who came over to sit and stitch and gab on the patio (properly socially distanced of course) held this up for me. Wait, I held it up and she took the picture.  

This is the back. I had the perfect twin sheet in rainbow colors for the back. But the stripes were wonky, so in straightening it out and cutting off the wonkiness, I lost just enough to have to insert a piece of one of my all-time favorite backings.

Garlic Breath measures 64x80”, and like real garlic breath, it is heavy!!

This one is a keeper!

I had a few things to finish up for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s month of dark green scraps in May. First were these two International Sisters blocks. These are not African fabrics, so they will go in the rainbow Sisters quilt I’m making for myself.

And finally, there was the dark green scrap quilt I make (almost) every month from all my leftover scraps, test blocks and orphan blocks.  I call these my Creature quilts because I give them silly names - because they are silly quilts - yet they provide creature comforts to the charities to which I donate them.  So, without further ado, meet CREATURE FROM THE MOSSY MOUNTAIN:

And here is the story of the Creature from the Mossy Mountain:

     Deep in the lush green mountains lived a young one named Fern. Shy Fern had always been misunderstood and ignored. Even as a tender sporeling, she hid in the shadows and was passed over as attentions were showered on the more vivid sprouts. The bright flowers snickered behind their sepals when they thought Fern wasn’t looking. All spring and summer the flowers and other plants were plucked up and carried away, one by one, from the meadows and hillsides. Alas! Green with envy and chlorophyll, Fern hid in her shady bower to photosynthesize alone.
     Then, one late summer day, a pair of famous botanists hiked to the shady glen deep in the mossy mountains. They were hunting for a rare, exotic specimen to become the centerpiece of a grand botanical garden at the palace. There in the shade they spied Fern. “Oh! What a magnificent and verdant Creature you are!” they exclaimed. They lovingly took Fern to the palace where she became the star of the garden ... and lived happily ever after.

If you look at the quilt, you will see mountain ridges, a gray “rock” outcropping, fern-y fabric with little woodland creatures and a big, ostentatious flower. And lots of little snips and bits shoved in there to make all the odd sizes work together, LOL.

Here’s the back, pieced from green chunks and leftovers. Creature measures 41x44”.

I’m also linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s Blog. It’s month-end, so you’ll see lots of colorful inspiration and finishes. And a lot of excitement as we begin June’s new color, PINK. But first, here’s my dark green May recap:

My green blocks this month totaled 43.  

In May I finished 6 quilts; two yellow and green giraffe-themed donation quilts, the Harambe Sisters wall hanging, the blue and pink happy blocks donation quilt, Garlic Breath and Creature from the Mossy Mountain.
But wait! There’s more!

Yep, once Angela announced pink for June earlier this week, I’m sure lots of us got crackin’!  I started by clearing out the biggest mess first - pink selvages.  The result was 16  half-hexie selvage blocks and lots of leftovers that I’m collecting to pass on to someone at the end of the year.

I’m also going to be working on the zipper blocks like Sally and Wanda (pattern courtesy of Lynn at kleinmeisjequilts). Here are my first two. I love the fabrics, but I’m not happy with the blocks. They’re too matchy-blendy. The solids (or near-solids) need to contrast more. So the one on the left will get dark orange for contrast and the one on the right will get gold for contrast. I should have them corrected (and hopefully another one made) by next week.  There’s potential here.

Stay safe, and if you venture into public, please be cautious and sensible. xo